A Celebration of Love, Marriage, and Family at Annual Outdoor Mass


By Tony DeGol

Vince and Yolanda Bumann have some advice for married couples.

“Give a hundred percent,” Vince urged.

“Just hang in there,” encouraged Yolanda. “Eventually everything you wish for will happen in God’s way. Keep on trucking!”

Indeed, Yolanda and Vince have trucked through 64 years of marriage, which qualifies them to share some words of wisdom on the subject.

Members of Saint Mary (Immaculate Conception) Parish in Altoona, the couple was blessed with six children and many cherished memories.

“We had a real good life together,” acknowledged Vince.

“We don’t always agree, but that’s alright,” added Yolanda with a chuckle.

The Bumanns were among the hundreds of husbands and wives who attended the annual outdoor Mass celebrating marriage on July 14 at the Our Lady of the Alleghenies Shrine in Loretto.

The Family Life Office of the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown sponsors the Liturgy each year as a way of highlighting the importance of marriage and family in society and re-affirming the Church’s commitment to couples throughout their life journey.

“We’re celebrating that marriage means so much more than just two people being together,” explained Andre McCarville, Diocesan Director of Family Life and Missions. “It’s the witness of God’s love for the Church celebrated by a couple, and we’re blessing that, trying to encourage couples in their promises to each other, letting them know that we as a Church support you. We want to celebrate who you are and the witness that you provide for the rest of the world.”

As part of the Mass, celebrated by Bishop Mark L. Bartchak, the couples had the lovely opportunity to face each other, join hands, and reaffirm the promises they made on their wedding day. The Bishop then offered them a special blessing.

In his homily, the Bishop assured husbands and wives of his prayerful support.

“You came here tonight because you already know or you have heard about this better way, which is the way of Christ who is loving and full of mercy,” Bishop Mark stated. “He goes out of His way to meet us here, up here on the mountain in beautiful Loretto, to feed us with His Word, which is the truth, and to nourish us and refresh us with His very Body and Blood in the Holy Eucharist.”

The Bishop thanked the couples for their witness to all that is challenging and good about marriage.

“May God continue to bless all of you and your children and grandchildren who will ask you sooner or later, ‘How do you have a happy and holy marriage? What’s the secret to that success?’”

Following the Mass, Tom Fleming joked that one secret to a successful marriage is to always agree with his very wise wife, Linda.

In reality, it would have been very difficult for him to disagree with her sentiments on that spectacular summer evening.  

“Sometimes life gets so busy, it’s just good to take a minute and really celebrate the sacrament and recognize what’s good in your partner,” noted Linda. “Sometimes we take things for granted, and we really shouldn’t.  We should praise God all the time for a healthy and enduring marriage, and this was a great time to do that.”

The Flemings, members of Our Mother of Sorrows Parish in Johnstown, are looking forward to their 30th anniversary later this year.

Jerry and Fran Fulare have been married for 33 years. Parishioners of Saint Mark in Altoona, they also enjoyed the opportunity to be part of the special Liturgy.

“It reflects to our children that we are very special in each other’s life and that God is very important to us and our family,” said Jerry.  

[Photos (from top): Tom and Linda Fleming; Vince and Yolanda Bumann; and Jerry and Fran Fulare.]